Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

No names known for 1510-23


29 Jan. 1535NICHOLAS QUARNBY vice Statham, deceased1
 (not known)

Main Article

Described by Leland as a ‘great market town’, Nottingham was a centre for the wool and cloth trade and celebrated for its alabaster carving. It lay not far from the Fosse Way and commanded the river Trent which provided a waterway to the Humber and the port of Kingston-upon-Hull. The castle, owned by the crown, was the meeting-place of the county court and the assizes, and housed the shire gaol: it was outside the jurisdiction of the town, which since 1449 had been a county of itself. Henry VI’s charter incorporating Nottingham as the mayor and burgesses was confirmed twice in the 15th century and again in 1510 and 1549. The mayor was assisted by six aldermen, several minor officers and the ‘clothing’ or ‘crimson’, that is, burgesses who had served as chamberlain or sheriff. There was a recorder and several lawyers of local origin were retained as counsel. A fee-farm of £62 12s. was paid to the crown. Municipal records survive from the period.5

Relations between the corporation and the townsmen were strained. Early in Henry VIII’s reign the recorder, Thomas Babington, warned the corporation against the claim advanced by some ‘commons of the town ... to make aldermen and other officers at their pleasure’ and against the ‘calling of any common hall at the request of any of them that make this confederacy’. The constable of the castle, Sir Thomas Lovell I, also counselled resistance and offered his support if the agitation continued. In 1527 the Mickletorn jury (the leet jury of the manor) petitioned the mayor against the method of choosing aldermen, the burgesses and commonalty having no part in this ‘contrary [to] the corporation of the ... town, and ... to the statute of free elections’. A quarter-of-a-century later the same body complained of the secrecy which surrounded the accounts for town lands and the expenses of Members of Parliament.

Until the Dissolution the corporation and townsmen generally made common cause against the Cluniac priory of Lenton, which lay in the suburbs. At its suppression several of its monks were hanged. After first intending to appoint a suffragan bishop, Henry VIII afterwards planned to use the priory church as the seat of a bishopric, but in 1539 he leased the site and buildings to Michael Stanhope, who until his execution in 1552 maintained friendly relations with the town. Mary revived the plan for a suffragan bishop but died before making an appointment. Under Edward VI the corporation obtained St. John’s hospital in the town to add to the endowment of the grammar school founded by the Mellors family in 1513: (Sir) John Hercy further enlarged the endowment by a gift of property in 1554.

Elections were held by the town’s sheriffs ‘in full county court’ at the guildhall. Only once during the period, in 1542, are they known to have been held on the same day as those for the shire. Indentures, in Latin, survive for a by-election in 1535 and for all elections between 1542 and 1558. The contracting parties are the sheriffs and the burgesses, between 14 and 26 of whom are named. On the indentures dating from the 1540s the mayor heads the list of electors, and on the first of them his name is followed by those of the aldermen.6

Of the 16 Members sitting in this period Edward Chamberlain, Francis Colman, Robert Haselrigge, Nicholas and Humphrey Quarnby and Henry Statham were townsmen; all had municipal experience save Nicholas Quarnby, and he probably owed his election in 1535 to his nephew Humphrey Quarnby, who as one of the sheriffs at the time was debarred from election. Anthony Babington, whose father had been recorder and Member before him, held the recordership when elected in 1529, Nicholas Powtrell became recorder while a Member for the first time, and Babington’s son-in-law George Pierrepont succeeded Powtrell in the office, some 16 years after his own return. Edward Boun was attorney for the town’s sheriffs and Hugh Thornhill one of its legal advisers. The three members of the Markham family, Sir John and his sons Thomas and William, owed their return to their local standing, kinship with the Babingtons and Powtrells and dependence on the 2nd Earl of Rutland, who from 1547 was constable of the castle. John Bateman was the earl’s secretary and John Paston his uncle. Only Paston, an East Anglian with a post in the Household, was not a local man. In 1529 Nottingham was one of the boroughs for which the King called for the writs, but the presumption that the men elected, Babington and Statham, were royal nominees is not backed by evidence. Neither of the Members in November 1554 satisfied the Queen’s preference for townsmen, but as recorder Powtrell could rank as a resident and his partner William Markham lived not far away.

Nottingham was included in the Act of 1536 (27 Hen. VIII, c.1) calling upon property owners to maintain their houses or else to forfeit them to the local authorities. In 1540 Haselrigge received 12d. from the town for buying a book of Acts while on a visit to London. The northern rebels of 1536 asked for a Parliament to meet at Nottingham or York: a Parliament was promised at York, but after the suppression of the rebellion no more was heard of the matter.7

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C219/18A/10, 29 Jan. and 25 Jan. as given in OR.
  • 2. House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 28 Hen. VIII, no. 6.
  • 3. C60/352, m. 18.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. This survey rests on C. J. Black, ‘Admin. and parlty. rep. Notts. and Derbys. 1529-58’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1966). Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, iv. 16; G. C. Deering, Nottingham, 1-2, 176; VCH Notts. ii. 99; D. Gray, Nottingham, 14; J. Throsby, Nottingham, 47; R. Chs. Nottingham, ed. Stevenson, 3-81 passim; Nottingham Bor. Recs. iii. iv.
  • 6. C219/18A/10, 18B/63, 18C/88, 19/127, 20/160, 21/206, 22/130, 23/177, 24/214, 25/146.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xii.